Today I’m happy to have 19 of the top marketers here on CMG to present to you all some of the top small business marketing ideas and strategies. These are some great marketers who I have had the pleasure to network with and ask for them to give their insight on how they would market a small business in 2013.
We all know there is tons of free information out there that educates us on marketing. I even created a guide on 31 tips on how to market your business which gives you a front row seat on some quick marketing steps you can take to get your brand out there.
But today I wanted to share more marketing knowledge from some amazing people who I really respect a lot. They have very useful websites filled with tons of information on current marketing strategies and events they have schedule. Plus I even added their website, Facebook and Twitter links to their listing so you can follow them on their profiles.
Remember education is everything when it comes to marketing online or offline. So whenever there is a chance for me to get educated even more in this industry then I’m all in. So take a few minutes and read what’s working for these marketers so you can go out and implement them.
1. Anita Campbell
In some ways, marketing a small business offline in 2013 is always like it has been. You try to get the word out in your local community through good signage, direct mail campaigns to likely customers, encouraging word of mouth perhaps by offering existing customers a discount for referrals, participating in local coupon magazines and flyers, trying to get some PR by reaching out to the local newspapers and local city magazines, attending networking events if you have a B2B business, or perhaps some print or local cable TV advertising if your budget can afford it.
But for online marketing, in 2013 you need to be very much focused around creating and sharing content. So if you are looking to market your business online, at the top of your list needs to be
(1) setting up a blog;
(2) creating an editorial schedule to feed the blog;
(3) participating in social networks to develop a social following;
(4) encouraging your social following to share.
If you’ve done some of that and you find you’re not getting the traction you want or growth is slow, then it’s time to refine what you’re doing. Take each of the above 4 steps, tear it down, and focus on doing each better. Let me take each of the four steps one by one, and give a few ideas for how to get to the next level with each step.
(1) You’ve set up a blog — have you tried to get visibility for it? For example, put up your best blog posts at BizSugar.com, if relevant to B2B, and participate so that you get attention. Try some relevant well-thought out comments at high profile blogs. Join communities such as the CommentLuv community. And so on.
Does you blog need some optimization of the content so you get more search traffic? If you run a WordPress blog, I highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin. Install it and learn how to use it.
Last, but most important, look at your content. Be niche, be hyper-focused on your target customer. Most blogs are too general in nature and everybody writes the same things. Write very specifically about the problems your customers come to you to solve — not other problems they may have.
If you are an advertising specialist advising other small businesses, your blog needs to be solely about advertising — not about accounting solutions for small businesses or reviewing the latest marketing book. Do a video series of tutorials about something very specific, such as how to write advertising copy or how to negotiate with your local weekly newspaper for favorable advertising rates.
Don’t just look at other blogs, but step back and think about the kinds of questions clients ask or the kinds of problems you solve for them. Make a list. THAT becomes your content ideas. Remember, you’re not a magazine or publication that should write about everything — write only about those things that impact on your business.
(2) Create an editorial schedule — and stick by it. The second biggest problem I see with most small businesses and their blogs is lack of regular content. Sure, there’s a lot of energy at first — but six months or a year later usually tells that tale. Too often you go to a blog, and the last post is 2 months old. Shoot for a once a week blog post. Keep it short if you don’t have time — just write something. Think of blogging as climbing a mountain. To climb a mountain you put one foot in front of the other. Each step is small. But by consistently taking steps, eventually you get to the top. You don’t stop for two months at a time and take a break. You keep moving consistently.
(3) Participating in social networks again involves a lot of small steps. Make time for it. Share other content, not just your own– that’s what will encourage others to share your content. Expand your horizons, too. Experiment with different approaches until you find out what appeals to your target customers most. Refining processes is all about trying new things, measuring, discarding things that don’t work as well. Rinse and repeat. Over and over.
2. Michael Nelson
When I consider how to market a small business in 2013, I go back to the basics. Too often I see companies with great products or services that are struggling because they aren’t selling enough to reach their goals. In most of these cases, the root cause can be traced back to how they are creating their marketing message and interacting with their market.
For those reading your article, now is a great time to do some basic analysis and thinking about creating marketing that delivers sales. To do this, I’d recommend defining three areas.
First, what are the features and benefits of what you are selling. Features describe your product, but your customers buy benefits. A great way to think about the difference is to word it “features so that benefits.” Benefits are what your customers will respond to in your marketing.
Secondly, consider how your services are unique and differentiated. What makes them better than other services that area available? Do you deliver “better, faster, cheaper” results? Benefits blended with differentiators make for a compelling message.
Lastly, rather than trying to define your ideal customer, I recommend you define the circumstances that your customers are in when you product will be most beneficial to them. When do they need your product? What are they doing that your product will help them do. What is the pain point or compelling desire that they are trying to work through in the circumstance?
Blend these elements together and you have your message and a good idea of who and where to deliver it. Give it a try and watch the results. And then fine tune it. And repeat…
3. Tai Goodwin-Kastens
The key to successful marketing, whether online or offline, is knowing exactly who your audience is. Solopreneurs, especially ones new to self -employment make the mistake of believing that everyone is their customer. They waste so much time and money trying to promote their products and services to every one, not realizing they don’t have the time or budget to market to "everyone" effectively.
Narrow down on the groups of people that need what you have to offer, are willing to pay your prices, and are easy for you to find and connect to. Once you find those groups, be consistent in your marketing approach: do more of what works, and tweak what doesn’t bring results.
4. Chuck Blakeman
The purpose of marketing is to build relationships – not to sell people things .People buy from people they know, like and trust. If your marketing helps them get to know, like and trust you, they will buy. If you try to sell them things in your marketing, they will go somewhere else.
The mechanism for building these relationships is "recency and frequency" – how recently did you talk to me and how frequently do you talk to me? Whether you’re building a relationship with your spouse, a neighbor or a potential customer, if you do not do both, you will not be successful building the relationship.
Large businesses create recency and frequency by spending exorbitant amounts of money. Small businesses must do it by spending time with their customers and potential customers. Do you have a "drip system" for weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual contact with your target market? If not, don’t expect them to buy.
You must be recent and frequent all the time, not one or the other. If you are regularly in contact and you SERVE them (what do THEY want and need), instead of trying to SELL to them (preaching how good you or your product are), your marketing will stop looking like marketing and people will be more likely to buy from you.
Stop "marketing" at people and build relationships through recency and frequency with a drip system. Serve, don’t sell. You’ll have a lot more success in business.
5. Joel Libava
Marketing a small business today is about volume and reach. Small business owners need to make sure that their businesses are listed in lots of places online. When I first started marketing online, I added my business information to every web directory and social network around. I still do. It makes a huge difference, and that’s why my brand is easily found when prospective clients do online searches for anything that involves the word, "franchise."
6. David Newman
The best thing small business owners and entrepreneurs can do to grow their business is to embrace the concept of 3PR – Personalized Professional Public Relations. How? By embracing the three central marketing strategies that a 3PR campaign involves: publishing, speaking, and social media. Let’s explore each one very briefly.
Publishing means publishing high-value, high-relevance content – on your blog, in articles, tip sheets, checklists, downloads, podcasts and whatever media your target clients and customers would value and consume. The second leg of your 3PR efforts is public speaking. The key is finding local, regional, and national groups of your best-fit customers and clients.
And then delivering a high-impact 30- to 60-minute presentation that addresses their most urgent, pervasive, expensive problems – and gives them valuable ideas to implement EVEN IF they don’t buy from you. The third leg of a 3PR campaign is social media – once you have a strong thought leadership platform via your content and your speaking strategy, it’s time to grow your influence, impact and reach using the social media platforms that matter most – Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, Facebook, and industry and professional blogs.
The bottom line: An effective 3PR campaign positions YOU and your company as the experts – and in today’s economy, experts win on value and generalists die on price.
– David Newman, author of Do It! Marketing (Doitmarketing Book)
7. Ramon Ray
Know your audience. Give them what they want. Refine. Listen to their needs and keep refining. In particular to online – publish often, be relevant to what your audience wants, be engaging (good headlines, lots of imagery), and then use analytics to measure how you are doing. That’s the summary of it!
8. Polly White
1. Why would a prospective customer buy my product or service rather than a competitor’s? Every small business owner must be able to answer this question and articulate his/her value proposition to the customer. It isn’t as easy as it first appears. Dig deep to articulate exactly why you’re different.
2. Is there a segment of the market that would value the things that differentiate my product or service and is it large enough to support my business? If the market segment that would appreciate your "difference" isn’t large enough, return to the first question. You need to explore further.
3. What is the most cost effective way to reach this segment with the message that my product or service is different? Social media may hold part of the answer, but don’t stop there. Look at traditional channels as well.
If you answer these questions, you will be off to a great start in marketing your small business.
9. Annemarie Cross
These three steps have helped me build my visibility with tens of thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs worldwide, continues to secure me opportunities to speak at events and telesummits alongside other multi six- and seven-figure Industry Thought Leaders, and provides me with a regular stream of enquiries and new (and amazing) clients.
They can help you achieve that too!
Here are the three simple steps: Building Your Visibility and Authority in three simple steps
10. Alyssa Gregory
For many small business owners, there’s nothing more stressful than managing a budget. Financial strain can cripple even the most well-planned business, and it’s not always easy to foreshadow when this might occur. More often than not, it’s marketing that causes business owners to go over-budget.
Marketing is, of course, one of the most important aspects of running any type of small business – it also happens to be one of the most expensive. Fortunately, there are ways in which to cut your marketing budget down without losing customers, especially if you take the time to plan properly.
Read More @ 4 Ways to Cut Small Business Marketing Costs
11. Gary Shouldis
When it comes to small business marketing in 2013, I think highly targeted marketing strategies will replace mass advertising as a better way to attract customers. Delivering relevant messages to specific customers through content creation, pay per click marketing and segmented email lists will lead to reaching a smaller, but more relevant audience for their business. People are looking for meaningful messages these days, even from advertising, it’s up to the business to provide that meaning.
12. Marc LeVine
If you are marketing a small or mid-size business in 2013, it is important to create a marketing plan that blends traditional and online marketing in a seamless and complimentary way. These days, you need a multitasking strategy that attacks your target markets by "land, air and sea". In the short term, look to tried and true traditional marketing methods such as direct selling, local and regional print, radio and CATV advertising and even flyers and door-hangers to jump start your revenue producing efforts.
The early income provided through traditional marketing will help you pay the monthly bills and sustain your business for the longer haul, which requires the patience and wherewithal to further expand your business reach through Social Media Marketing.
Far too many new businesses "get it" backwards and jump right into Social Media Marketing; looking to it as the grasp-er of low hanging fruit and the savior of failing businesses – it is neither. Social Media is harder to crack, because you need to speak over the crowd and convince virtual strangers (pardon the pun) that you are knowledgeable, trustworthy and business competitive. That takes time and can not be rushed.
The right way to do things is to start your traditional and Social Media Marketing at the same time; growing them side-by-side.
13. Reginald Chan
Marketing is all about you and it doesn’t matter if you want to build an empire or already building one. My advise: Be bold and daring to use the path that is not taken! Marketing is only effective and successful when you are absolutely sure of your target and audience. The rest will come naturally.
14. Mickie Kennedy
A small business lacks the big pockets of larger businesses so nearly every dollar spent in marketing expenses has to show a return-on-investment (ROI). The easiest and surest way to ensure a strong ROI is to completely leverage your existing customers. Are you communicating special offers with your customers through email, social media, and your website? If not, you’re missing out on the easiest marketing dollars you can spend.
I hold a big promotion of bulk press release distributions to my existing customers twice a year. It now accounts for nearly 25 percent of my annual revenue. The success of this program is that while it is a steep discount (about 50 percent), it requires customers to commit to large packages of 5, 10, 25, or 50 press release distributions.
Secondly, are you marketing and following up with leads? I’m not talking same day or immediate follow up, which I expect all small businesses to be doing. I’m talking about adding them to a list and promoting to them weeks and months later. These are people who have inquired about your services by phone or email, and have not yet purchased. A one-time special promotion or package may be exactly the offer that clinches the deal. In both of these instances, your largest expense will be your time and creativity.
15. Gene Marks
Marketing is chopping wood. Again and again and again. You cannot put a gun to a prospect’s head and tell him to buy from you. You have to be on his mind when he’s thinking about buying a product or service that you may provide so he thinks of you first. What are you doing to stay on your prospect’s mind?
16. Jay Ehret
How will you market your small business for the remainder of 2013? If you want to be successful you will have to turn to email marketing. Wait.scratch that.I meant YouTube. YouTube is how you need to market your business for the remainder of 2013. Or.content marketing. Yes, that’s it; content marketing is the answer. Really, all or none of these can be effective marketing tools, but they are not "how" you market your business.
They are "where" you might market your business, and they have a minimal effect on the success of your marketing. As to how, I’m going to recommend you do something that seems so rare in small business. Stand out in a personal way. What makes you, the business owner, and by extension your business, so special? And I mean you. Not your product, not your service: you.
I worked recently with an entrepreneur, and we described him and his business as: "A company that uses creativity to positively impact lives with a servant’s heart." I was inspired. There’s a similarly unique description for your business. Take that, make it your centerpiece, and you will stick out like a rose among dandelions. That’s how you market your business for the remainder of 2013 and beyond.
17. Joan Stewart
The best way for small businesses to market is twofold: First, know how to find your target market online and offer valuable free content to them via blogs (either your own or as a guest blogger for someone else) and social sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. When you find your target audience, offer them valuable free tips that will help them, not a free commercial.
At your website, offer free content in exchange for their email address so you can build an email list of people you can market to. Second, make it easy for THEM to find YOU. Create a YouTube channel filled with short videos that are tagged with your keywords. Make sure your website is optimized for the search engines. Are you on Yelp? If you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re in the various Twitter directories. If you’re on LinkedIn, join the same LinkedIn groups that people in your target market are apt to join.
18. Chris Hamilton
The key to marketing for a small business in 2013 is consistency. So many companies try something once and never see the results they wanted and give up. The problem is that if you do a marketing campaign only once, the odds are stacked against you that people will even remember your company. It takes multiple touches for a potential client to know who you are and what you offer.
19. Brad Farris
There’s nothing more attractive to your target market then demonstrating expertise. If you can show a prospect that you understand the situation that they are in, and that you have solved those kind of problems for other people and companies they will call you to set up a meeting, or buy what you are selling. In order to do this you need to have three things. You need a well defined target market so that visitors to your site will SEE right away that this is for THEM.
Second, you need to describe the problems that they are having, in as much detail as you can. To do this I think about a specific client, what is their problem, how does it feel to them, what have they tried… I’m not naming that client, I’m just writing as if I’m addressing them. Then you need to show folks the results that other clients have had when they have worked with you and your company.
Bonus: Late Entry.
20. Cathy Larkin
Marketing doesn’t start with your new campaign…it starts with stepping back from your daily business and focusing on who your customers and prospects are. Ask questions, really put yourself in their proverbial shoes. Then look at what knowledge your company has to share that your prospects need, that will catch their interest.
Then look for ways, throughout your company and marketing venues, to share that knowledge with your prospects and customers…online or off. From your front desk staff’s client interactions to your attendance at networking events – keep your customer’s needs and interests in mind.
Take a hard look at your website and blog do they focus on what’s of interest to your business and board, or on the customer’s needs/interests? Do the same with your social media activity and ad campaigns. People buy from people and companies they know, like and trust; become their helpful partner and they are more likely to buy from you when the time comes.
Hope you learned a little more about how to market your business more effective in 2013. Plus if you feel like you can add some value to this post and educate more readers who come alone then feel free to take a moment to leave a well delivered comment below. I welcome anyone insights on what’s working for you by passing it on to someone who may need even more help.
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